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US may sanction Israeli army over West Bank settler violence

US to sanction Israeli military, politicians over West Bank settler violence
3 min read
10 February, 2024
Israel has 60 days to present a "satisfactory explanation" to Washington over reports of settler violence in the West Bank or face further US sanctions.
Israeli settler violence has peaked in the West Bank since the start of the Gaza war [Getty]

The US could sanction members of the Israeli military and politicians due to their failures in curbing settler violence against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, as reported by Israeli media on Saturday.

The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) cited a memorandum by the Israeli foreign affairs ministry which said Washington was preparing to impose sanctions on Israeli soldiers, including officers, as well as lawmakers and ministers.

Israel has taken the threats to impose sanctions "very seriously," and must provide Washington with "a satisfactory explanation" for reports of human rights violations in the West Bank within 60 days.

Israeli officials are expected to discuss the matter in the coming week.

President Joe Biden’s administration has warned Israel multiple times in recent months about the increasing violence being faced by Palestinians in the West Bank at the hands of extremist Jewish Israeli settlers.

However, after failing to act, the US sanctioned four Israelis accused this month of being involved in violence in the occupied Palestinian territory.

More than 300 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the Gaza war on October 7.

Britain, the European Union and more than a dozen partner countries including Australia and Canada have called on Israel to take immediate and concrete steps to tackle settler violence in the West Bank, which was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967.

Almost half a million settlers live there, with every settlement in the occupied territory considered illegal under international law.

Growing discontent

The US sanctions against the four Israelis this month were issued as an executive order. It is one of several gestures Washington has made amid growing public disapproval for their support of Israel's war in Gaza.

Biden on Thursday had said Israel’s military campaign in Gaza was "over the top," urging it to stop.

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right cabinet are also pushing back against Western and Arab efforts to negotiate a two-state solution, saying they will not accept the creation of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli military says it is preparing for the next phase of the war by storming Rafah, which lies at the southernmost end of the Gaza strop. It is the last major city yet to be invaded by Israeli ground forces

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many of whom escaped other parts of the territory, are crammed in Rafah with nowhere else to go. Airstrikes have already killed dozens there in recent days.

Nearly 28,000 people, most of whom are civilians, have been killed in Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip since October 7

As well as the US, other Western allies of Israel have warned it about storming Rafah, alarmed over the colossal death toll.